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Can political involvement hurt admissions chances?

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Replies to: Can political involvement hurt admissions chances?

  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 22,328 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    Ha, you mean where Zin asks me if I'm sure work study kids aren't making admit decisions? I am sure. Or an anecdote or two, in *Daily Beast,* about how some adult once worked as a receptionist? You never had an incidental job?

    Ask yourself what that proves. Many could learn a whole lot more about all this by examining the colleges, not clinging to anecdotes, hearsay, and "I think."

    A good, balanced, inquisitive kid won't be faulted for conservative views. An extremist of any sort, is different. And yes, those on either side may very well self select a college where they're majority. The easy example is ardent Christians on CC, asking about very Christian colleges or how comfortable they may feel at certain better known colleges where religious views are not the guiding principles.
  • al2simonal2simon Registered User Posts: 847 Member
    edited March 20
    My own guess is that there is little discrimination against political conservatives at the level of undergraduate admissions. What there is, is probably mostly due to unconscious bias and the fact that admissions officers tend to place value on activities that are "making a difference" in ways that fit stereotypical liberal politics and don't fit stereotypical conservative politics. At the same time, the numbers do suggest there might be some. I do not believe that admissions committee are less flawed in their biases than any other professionally run organization.

    Honestly, it's hard to tell because there are legitimate reasons why the campus population will skew liberal. But kids whose applications mention politically conservative activities and are rejected are left wondering. I suppose it's similar to the questions that many black people have ... "was I not hired because there was a better qualified candidate, or was there some form of discrimination at play". Well, as they say, once is chance, twice is coincidence, and three times is enemy action.

    I think this is a good lesson for kids to learn about the realities of the world. You just never know, so why take a chance. Adults usually go out of their way not to list their political involvement, their views on abortion, etc. on their resumes even if these activities are very important to them because of the fear of alienating a potential interviewer. With the country experiencing such a high level of polarization I would tell my kid to avoid taking *unnecessary* chances. But if an activity is actually very important to them, then it is "necessary" and they should go ahead and pursue it.

    I do think that at the level of faculty hiring (and possibly even graduate student admissions) being known to espouse politically conservative beliefs can be very detrimental in *some* fields of study. The statistics and the personal accounts are overwhelming. But that's a different issue.
  • hzhao2004hzhao2004 Registered User Posts: 452 Member
    Since the admission process at most selective colleges is a black box, I'd steer clear of any potentially controversial mateirals, including politics. Given people are more liberal inclining at universities, it is not advisable to tout your consevative bona fide, unless, as other people have already stated, you can spin it as a leadership quality or intellectual growht.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 28,778 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    I haven't got time to look up every liberal college. But I think that 4% number at Harvard supporting Trump, was a reflection of that particular candidate.

    According to this 2015 article it's not necessarily easy or fun to be a conservative at Harvard, but 12% or so of the population identifiy themselves as conservative or very conservative: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2015/10/1/conservatives-scrutiny-oct-2015/ The Crimson's 2012 poll shows 25% of Harvard students supporting Romney. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/11/5/crimson-presidential-poll-2012/

    I am not an admissions officer, but I know that the schools are looking for thoughtful students of all stripes. So unless you have truly offensive beliefs, and especially if you are involved in projects that are improving the lives of others, I don't think being a conservative would be a problem.
  • jonrijonri Registered User Posts: 6,720 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    So there is plenty of evidence that those schools are not at all representative of the political spectrum of students' in that age group; the question is why.

    Look at the arguments on CC. One of the most common is whether higher ed should be "vocational." IME--purely anecdotal I admit-- political conservatives tend to think it should be or perhaps a better way to say it would be to say that those holding that view tend to be political conservatives.

    With the exception of engineering--a field in which Ivies in the aggregate are less outstanding than in most other fields--and of finance (Wharton) and nursing at UPenn, the Ivies are liberal arts institutions. You're not going to study accounting, pharmacy, nursing, allied health fields like physical and speech therapy, business and allied fields like marketing, public relations, etc. as an undergrad at an Ivy. I think the absence of these fields of study in and of itself tends to make student bodies less conservative.

    I think at almost every college, except perhaps the Protestant Evangelical ones, students majoring in theatre, creative writing, studio art, etc. are more liberal politically. These students make up a higher percentage of students at a college like Brown than at your typical flagship state U.

    Look at the posters who are saying it doesn't hurt--they are in large part people who went to Ivies and top LACs and/or who have kids who did. The posters who are doubting this seem to be those who have no first hand experience with these institutions.

  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 31,109 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    I would NOT take only "x people voted for Trump" to be ANY kind of indicator of the level of conservative students on campus. Most conservatives I know from all ages didn't vote for him.

    Likewise, I wouldn't use Hillary's numbers to indicate liberalness since I know many liberals who didn't vote for her.
  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 357 Member
    edited March 20
    "I would NOT take only "x people voted for Trump" to be ANY kind of indicator of the level of conservative students on campus. Most conservatives I know from all ages didn't vote for him."

    THIS. I only know one Republican who initially supported Donald Trump. Trump won the Republican primary with a majority of votes, but not a plurality. He was, however, the top Republican candidate for both California and the entire Northeast save Maine, so there are definitely folks in those "Ivy" states who liked him for whatever reason. I'm still struggling with the Trump phenomena. IMO, he won the election because he was a political outsider. If he had run on the Democrat ticket and faced off against Ted Cruze, I think Trump still would have won.

    That being said, rather than attempting to start a Young Republicans or YAF that might draw some very right wing students, your daughter might prefer to volunteer to specific causes that support her political beliefs. I have a fairly fiscally conservative daughter who is very liberal on social issues. She will gladly support her school's Young Democrats at equal rights marches but will debate them on taxes.
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    I really don't think conservatives are any more inclined toward vocational training than anyone else (good grief!), but in any event, a HYPSM economics degree is the perfect vocational training for the field of investment banking or prestigious management consulting-just check with the HR departments of Goldman Sachs and BCG for their incoming classes.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 59,380 Senior Member
    I'm still struggling with the Trump phenomena. IMO, he won the election because he was a political outsider.

    This survey of focus groups of Trump voters in Michigan may be of interest:

    https://www.nationaljournal.com/s/649405 (article with summary)
    http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/1063/Dcor_Macomb_FG Memo_3.10.2017_FINAL.pdf (results of survey)
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,492 Senior Member
    but in any event, a HYPSM economics degree is the perfect vocational training for the field of investment banking or prestigious management consulting-just check with the HR departments of Goldman Sachs and BCG for their incoming classes.

    Actually, both firms don't really care about the major so much as the elite pedigree(Not limited to HYPSM...but peer elites including some publics needed to be near that level) of undergrad institution attended and having a reasonably high cumulative GPA.

    A cousin-in-law who applied to BCG on a lark just to see if she'd get hired as a graduating HYPSM Biological Sciences major ended up turning down admission to several Top 5 Genetics PhD programs when she was surprised to receive an offer from them. She mentioned several times they hired people from a wide variety of majors including Art/Art History, Classics, English Lit, MechE, Chemistry, etc. One doesn't necessarily need to major in Econ to be hired. She enjoyed her time there and they paid for her to attend a top 3 MBA program on their dime when she finished her 2 year stint.

    Also know of several Ivy/peer elite non-economics social science/humanities majors(Poli-sci, History, Anthro, English lit, Sociology) who were hired to work at GS right out of undergrad.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 16,529 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    Anyone who has spent any time at an Ivy League university (or anything like it) knows that it's ludicrous to think that a student would be rejected for being an engaged, thoughtful conservative. The student bodies at all of them lean liberal, but every elite college has decent representation of vocal, active conservatives. Generally, the spirit of those colleges is that active, engaged anything is better than bland, as long as the student seems thoughtful and independent-minded, and within the mainstream of post-Enlightenment intellectual traditions.

    If someone were a Biblical literalist, that could be a problem, unless he or she clearly demonstrated that he or she was prepared to live in and engage with a world that does not regard the Bible as the fundamental source of non-metaphoric truth. If someone were the type of conservative who believes that some races are superior to others, or that homosexuality is evil, and those were the issues he or she chose to engage with most -- that would be a huge red flag for admissions. But there are plenty of kids on elite college campuses who believe in limiting government, especially the federal one, who hope someday to have a job in a Paul Ryan (or Rand Paul) administration, and who gleefully quote The Fountainhead to one another. Most (not all) arrived at college that way. If admissions teams were trying to keep them out, they are failing miserably.

    The most recent Pew data show that the more education people have, the larger the percentage of them who identify as liberals. The larger percentage of them who identify as conservatives, too, as opposed to nothing, through the population with college degrees (although the liberal cohort outnumbers the conservative cohort in every group with high school degrees or more education than that). When you get to people with graduate and professional degrees, however, the percentage of conservatives takes a meaningful dip, while the percentage of liberals increases over just BAs.

    Anyway, the population of students at elite colleges is a population of students who will overwhelmingly be getting graduate degrees. Their political self-identification basically tracks that of the population cohort which they expect to (and will) join.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,492 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    and who gleefully quote The Fountainhead to one another.

    That's very amusing considering how The Fountainhead was revered and and loudly pitched by dozens of HS classmates who ended up at Ivy/peer elite colleges from my graduating HS class.

    And Ayn Randists are still having no issues getting admitted considering the several younger HS alums I've met at HS alum gatherings who are current/recent Ivy/peer elite college students/alums.

    Several were prominent members(officers) or even presidents of the HS and college Libertarian/Ayn Randist campus organizations and all were out, loud, and proud about their political beliefs. No shrinking violets exhibiting behaviors showing they were ashamed or fearful of reactions from others to their expressed beliefs here.
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    Good to know you think so, JHS. I'll just take my 2 Ivy degrees and my 7 immediate family members with Ivy degrees and understand that we don't exist in your world.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 22,328 Senior Member


    To no one and everyone,
    That was then, this is now.





  • collegedad13collegedad13 Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    The student bodies at all of them lean liberal, but every elite college has decent representation of vocal, active conservatives. Generally, the spirit of those colleges is that active, engaged anything is better than bland, as long as the student seems thoughtful and independent-minded, and within the mainstream of post-Enlightenment intellectual traditions

    As I have said before I would stay away from this issue if I were the OP. Here are some mainstream conservative positions that wouldn't play out well with admissions. Providing meals to the elderly is a waste of money. Providing money for the arts is a waste of money. Climate change is a hoax(imagine a student writing an essay on the climax change hoax). Providing government paid medical care for the poor is a waste of money. The mentally ill should be allowed to carry guns.
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